UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje Odds, Predictions and Pre-Weigh-in Hype

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2022

UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje Odds, Predictions and Pre-Weigh-in Hype

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    The UFC 274 card is stacked with practitioners of beautiful violence. The crowd that descends upon the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, are in store for one of the best cards of the year, with several key fights on tap. 

    The evening ends with a great lightweight matchup. The always-entertaining Justin Gaethje will get a crack at Charles Oliveira's championship. 

    The women's strawweight championship will be on the line as well. Rose Namajunas will attempt to defend her title against Carla Esparza in a rematch from eight years ago. 

    Those two fights might be the main events, but any card that has Donald Cerrone, Tony Ferguson or Michael Chandler is sure to be fun. This one has all three. 

    Here's a look at the whole card along with the latest buzz as we head into weigh-ins. 

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds—May 7

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    Main Card (ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET)

    • Charles Oliveira (c) -180 (bet $180 to win $100) vs. Justin Gaethje +155 (bet $100 to win $155)—lightweight championship
    • Rose Namajunas (c) -210 vs. Carla Esparza +175—women's strawweight championship
    • Michael Chandler -365 vs. Tony Ferguson +280
    • Ovince Saint Preux -240 vs. Mauricio Rua +195
    • Donald Cerrone -180 vs. Joe Lauzon +155

    Prelims (ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET)

    • Khaos Williams -125 vs. Randy Brown +105
    • Norma Dumont -225 vs. Macy Chiasson +185
    • Blagoy Ivanov -150 vs. Marcos Rogerio De Lima +130
    • Brandon Royval -250 vs. Matt Schnell +200
    • Francisco Trinaldo -115 vs. Danny Roberts -105

    Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass at 5:30 p.m. ET)

    • Tracy Cortez -150 vs. Melissa Gatto +130
    • Kleidison Rodrigues -335 vs. CJ Vergara +260
    • Loopy Godinez -190 vs. Ariane Carnelossi +160
    • Journey Newson +130 vs. Fernie Garcia -150
    • Andre Fiahlo -400 vs. Cameron Vancamp +300

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook 

Gaethje Looking to Humble Oliveira

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    Charles Oliveira has a lot of reasons to believe in himself. The once middling lightweight contender has transformed himself into a confident champion with a 10-fight win streak that goes all the way back to 2018. 

    It's an incredible career arc given his 2-4 record in six fights before the streak. 

    But UFC 274 opponent Justin Gaethje believes the run of success has gone to his head. 

    "Luckily for me, Charles is growing a big head right now," Gaethje said, per Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated. "He's going to say some crazy things at the press conference. Hopefully he thinks he's infallible. That would be great for me."

    Confidence is going to be a key element in the fight. Gaethje's high-pressure style can be difficult for anyone to adjust to. It takes someone willing to fire back and go toe-to-toe to turn his style against him. 

    This is the kind of fight that should be an odds-on favorite for some performance bonuses. Both of these guys put on a show, and the pace should be frenetic. 

    While Oliveira has been on a roll of late, Gaethje's ability to wrestle combined with his striking makes him a tough matchup. 

    Prediction: Gaethje via fourth-round TKO

Namajunas Grateful for Second Chance at Esparza

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    Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza have already met in the cage once. In 2014, the two fought under very different circumstances in the season finale of The Ultimate Fighter 20. 

    Namajunas was just 22 years old and coming off of three straight submission wins in the tournament format of the reality television series. The two met in the finale with the title on the line. While Namajunas was touted as the next best thing, Esparza crashed that hype train. 

    Cookie Monster scored the third-round submission to become champion. 

    Since then, Namajunas has grown by leaps and bounds as a fighter, fulfilling her potential by winning the strawweight championship twice. But avenging her early-career loss to Esparza is still on her to-do list. 

    "It's definitely something I've thought about a bunch," Namajunas told Ronny Lerner of Fox Sports Australia. "That's another thing I'm super grateful for is getting a second chance at doing this because not many people, when they lose the belt, they get back to it."

    Thug Rose has a great shot at redemption here. She's a sizable favorite as a much more well-rounded fighter than the first time. Esparza's wrestling is still a potential issue, but Namajunas should get the win. 

    Prediction: Namajunas via third-round TKO

Ferguson Looking to Get Back to His Old Self Against Chandler

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    The fact that Tony Ferguson and Michael Chandler aren't headlining a card and fighting for a belt is a matter of timing. 

    When Ferguson was on his 12-fight win streak from 2013 to 2019, he was one of the hottest commodities in the division. During that time, Chandler was still signed with Bellator, where he was lightweight champion. 

    It only took one fight for Chandler to score a lightweight title shot. 

    Now, both fighters are on losing streaks. Chandler lost his title bid to Oliveira and subsequently lost a decision to Justin Gaethje. 

    Ferguson's stock has taken an even bigger hit. He's lost three straight fights since his streak was broken. Now, he's ready to get back to basics. 

    "I wasn't able to perform to my best abilities during my training camps. I was more afraid of everybody else learning my trade and learning what I've got because I like that little bit of Mysterio," Ferguson said on UFC Countdown (h/t Cole Shelton of BJPenn.com). "I've been to the top, I've been to the bottom, but I don't want to lose again. So, I'm going back to my wrestling roots."

    That could create an even more interesting fight with Chandler. He's not a bad wrestler himself, so watching him navigate the unorthodox grappling of El Cucuy should be a fun watch. 

    Prediction: Chandler via decision


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